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Cougar Town “Learning to Fly” 

Photo Credit: Eric Heinila/TBS
Photo Credit: Eric Heinila/TBS

Cougar Town loves its wine. Well, at least the Cul-De-Sac Crew loves its wine. The idea that another one of Jules’ behemoth wine glasses is shattered is a bit repetitive, but this is what we love about Cougar Town. We love the idea of these characters hanging out drinking wine and talking about nothing. Big Tippy didn’t have a long shelf life, but the crew will miss him (at least Jules will) and we now have a new addition to the family: Big Chuck. This is all silly, but it’s what I love about this show, the fact that a broken wine glass gets a respectable send off and it’s actually an emotional moment for the characters. But this is still a show about a tight knit group drinking wine and participating in low-risk behavior, so it’s only fitting that they get hung up on something so unimportant in reality, even though it’s a major part of their lives within the world of the show.

Having watched these characters become their own little family over the years, it has allowed me to appreciate the times when they do an episode as generic as “Learning to Fly.” It’s got three stories: Jules trying to fight karma; Ellie and Andy have a bet revolving around the yearly yard sale; and the Cobb boys are both scared of roller coasters. None of these stories are groundbreaking, but watching these characters incorporated into these stories doesn’t necessarily detract from my enjoyment of them, except for Ellie once again having to fight the urge to be herself because of a silly bet — this has been done a lot over the shows run. But it all mostly works, especially when Grayson’s captain outfit — which seemed like just another Cougar Town gag — saved the day before they got on Satan’s Chariot.

It all comes together in the final sequence though, when Bobby and Travis are at Satan’s Chariot to spread Grandpa Pappy’s ashes. It’s a battle of fears — even though Travis’ fear of roller coasters comes from Bobby’s scary excuses to Travis as a child — but it also shows how the crew comes together to support one another, along with the image of Ellie wearing that sumo wrestler suit. It’s the theme of family and being together to overcome obstacles, and Cougar Town is always exceptional with this type of stuff. But it’s still a mediocre episode of Cougar Town, especially when you compare it to last week’s exceptional “Hard On Me.”

I don’t think I’ve ever disliked an episode of Cougar Town, and I should add that this is not an episode I dislike, but “Learning to Fly” is not going to be in my memory bank of favorite episodes of the series. Like I said, it’s generic, but also simple in its structure. When Cougar Town needs to simplify its stories they can do it, even though some of the great and memorable episodes of this show revolve around more out there concepts. “Learning to Fly” delivers basic sitcom concepts, but they are utilized so well and you can’t knock a show for executing simple plots at a high and funny level. I love how the yard sale brought up things like Penny Can and Travis’ green screen, but they did this without piling it on with nostalgia and sometimes that is all you need out of a show that’s been on the air for five seasons: A sense of how far it has come without forgetting what got them here in the first place.

Cougar Town airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on TBS.

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